I’m a huge advocate of data analysis and associated metrics. In all my years conducting research, I’ve found that data surprises you, encourages you, scares you, enlightens you, and ultimately validates or invalidates your plans or decisions.
As IT and business leaders are faced with transformative changes in the workplace, data will be incredibly important to help guide decisions—and management tools deliver the data. Consider that only 12% of companies plan to fully return to the office following the pandemic (most will continue with WFH strategies for all or some employees), and it’s easy to see how much the workplace is changing. You can’t have that drastic of a permanent change to the workplace without re-evaluating all technologies, business process, and change management.
IT and CX leaders are understandably concerned about network and application performance, particularly voice and video quality, as well as security of all the remote locations. In fact, when we asked companies in April 2021 about their Customer Experience (CX) transformation activities, the top project underway was “adding more management tools to improve voice, video, and network performance.”
Adding management tools. That’s transformative? Yes, the results they can deliver truly are transformative to organizations. For example, 73% of companies are using more tools and gaining more visibility into their applications since moving to a work-from-home environment in March 2020. On the aforementioned list of CX transformation projects, management tools ahead of improving self-service knowledge bases, adding artificial intelligence, adding cloud based apps, implementing Voice of the Customer programs, and more! That alone underscores the importance and value of adding or improving management tools.
The Role of Metrics
Back to data and metrics. Where do they fit in? If you use the right management tools, you can track metrics of importance—and that will help you identify areas working well and those in need of improvement. In fact, the tools themselves can help by automating otherwise-manual functions. Consider the following questions that you can address with the right data:
- What are your performance metrics? These include uptime, Mean Opinion Score, jitter rate, packet loss, and many other metrics to show whether your network foundation and communications applications are performing at acceptable levels.
- How quickly can you onboard employees or address changes to generate revenue and improve overall productivity? Manual processes typically hit the bottom line. The quicker you can onboard, the quicker you can start generating revenue. Automation speeds that process.
- How much are you spending on management tools themselves? If you can consolidate and leverage multiple functions, architectures, and vendors within one tool, you’ll save money and IT administrator time.
- What broader business reports can you generate to evaluate the relationship between technology utilization and business success? For example, when employees use certain applications, are they more productive? Does revenue increase or cost decrease?
The Value of Management Tools
On the surface, management tools manage real-time and historical performance of the network, applications, and even employee productivity and utilization of applications.
But they deliver many more benefits. They also automate functions, particularly administrative, as IT administrators onboard employees and change any of their policies. Transformations (and the ensuing new technology or business processes) require time and effort, so anything that can be automated is golden. They can track assets, measure application utilization, predict when conditions may result in performance issues, provide reports to assess current status or recent changes to technology or staffing, and much more.
Companies can opt to use management tools from the Unified Communications or Contact Center providers, but most (61.5%) prefer their tools come from an independent, third-party provider—a specialist rather than a generalist. And 64.4% say it’s “extremely valuable” to have a single tools that can manage multiple vendors.
In fact, when companies use specialty performance management tools, mean time to repair dropped by 15.5%, on average, and for companies with more than 1,000 employees, that figure climbed to 33.8%. When companies use administration management tools from specialty providers, they saw a 31% reduction in provisioning time.
Identifying a single provider depends on the functions that requirement management. Several vendors provide specialized management capabilities. In our research, we analyzed nine providers. Three of them—Riverbed, Unify Square, and VOSS—provide both administration and performance management. Three—IR, Nectar, and VOSS—manage UC, contact center, and SBCs.
Of all the vendors, VOSS has the most comprehensive coverage. It’s the only provider that delivers both administrative and performance management tools for UC, contact center, and SBCs—and manages on-premises and cloud architectures. VOSS also manages the most UC and contact center platforms (For a detailed view of the analysis, look at this report.)
When selecting a provider, consider its ability to do the following for the most successful results:
- Automate onboarding, implementation, and workflow
- Monitor real-time network and application performance
- Receive metrics to validate service level agreements
- Analyze data that shows the success of services among employees and customers